A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: bczlapinski

A Lost Day in Wales . . .

. . . Things begin to run together -- or I've had one too many ales!


First, the ale thing. I alway surprise myself when traveling because I drink beer. At home, unless I am with buddies chatting, I rarely drink beer -- so I pint is quite a lot of beer for me in one sitting. Before you think "me thinks she doth protest too much," I'll move on.

I was looking at my photos an know that I forgot to mention a couple of places. On my trip around the Llyn peninsula, I saw a sigh for a place called Hell Mouth, and ever interested in things related to hell, I took the turn. It was a beautiful and wild semi-circular beach.The wind was stiff and the surf was high. People were out on surf boards in their wet suits. It was awesome. There was even a tea vendor at the parking lot.

One thing that I found different from the US is that all roads have frequent parking areas, and many of the parking areas have lunch wagons that seem to do a brisk business with locals and drivers.

I moved my headquarters in Wales from Caernarfon to a hotel about 15 miles inland from Aberystwyth on the Cardigan Bay. One day I headed toward the south coast town of Tenby. There were a few places that looked interesting to see, and all of the photos I saw made the town look charming. I cut across country climbing up and sailing down mountains and hills patch worked in greens and speckled with sheep. As I passed through coastal villages, the stone gave way to stucco and the row houses were each painted a different pastel color: peach, beige, celery, sky blue, pink, and yellow. Very cute. Tenby is a charming little town with cute shops, a host of eateries, and several places to visit. I wanted to visit a National Trust property, a Medieval merchant's house. It was positively opulent compared to the farm house I saw earlier. The ceilings were high
And the windows were glazed. All of the rooms had fireplaces - the builder was apparently wealthy. Off the shore of Tenby is a monastic island, and I was tempted, but my tendency toward seasickness and schedule did not permit.

From there I went into Pembroke to see the castle, but it was closed for the first time in memory for a shooting of a BBC version of Richard III - " A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Drat! I stopped at Manorbriar Castle, owned and occupied by an individual. The inner Bailey had been transformed into a garden which was very lovely with the ruins and all. Gerard of Wales, a 13th century church man who was a contemporary of Becket, was born here. A favorite. Seeing this castle made me want to read one of my old favorite romance novels Roselynde by Roberta Gellis. I drove from there out to Saint Davids, a very picturesque and historical town.

As I was driving, I saw a sign for a tomb, so I turned off and followed roads which narrowed down to sing track - a frequent occurrence in Wales. I arrived at a dolmen on the top of a hill. It was called Pentre Ifan. A dolmen is a collection of upright stones with a large cap stone. The were burial chambers once covered with earth, but now with only the stones remaining. Pentre If an dated back to 3000 BC. It's weird; these move me more than the pyramids. Last stop for the day was a recreated Iron Age Village near Cardigan. It was very interesting.

Great day!

Posted by bczlapinski 10:51 Archived in Wales Tagged dolmen tenby Comments (0)

Too much to see, no time to blog

Back to Snowdonia and beyond

It was a drizzly day, and I headed out for Snowdonia National Park. On way I stooped at a place called Ugly House which I thought was rather rustic and cute. I went to Betws-y-Coed which means a chapel in the woods. It is a cute but very touristy little village complete with huge bus loads of tourist. I walked around a bit, but soon headed out to see a Welsh farmhouse way out in the country on an old drover's road. A Bishop William Morgan lived here while he translated the Bible into Welsh. The house was very small and underscored the simple yet busy lives people must have lived. There was no glass in the windows, just shutters . . . Brrrrrr. The setting was beautiful - I wondered it they drove cattle or sheep along the drover's road. my last adventure that day was to find a set of standing stones, but I would have had to go onto private property -- pretty common around here -- but I was uncomfortable and it was very remote.

The next day, sunny and bright, I headed out to the Llyn Penninsula to the south of Caernarfon. I spent most of the day driving around. the views were spectacular. I wanted to visit a National Trust property called Plas yn Rhiw- a restored cottage, but I was too early. I then went into the seaside town of Cricceith to see the castle. This castle is vastly ruined by quite picturesque just the same. Back toward Caernarfon, I stopped at a place called Glyniffon Manor. It sounds an awful lot like Glenowen to my untrained ear, so I was hoping to find the place that inspired Eleanor Sleath to write her novella Glenowen. The house there was too late for Sleath to have seen it, it is a Georgian estate with columns and statues flanking the front. The house that was there in 1810 - 1815 was brick. The grounds had an arboretum, grottoes, and damp cavelike ferneries. I do so wish it was the inspiration.

I checked out of the Black Boy Inn on the 30th and headed up the coast taking the long was to Aberystwyth. My first stop was Rhuddlan Castle where I was alone. I was able to say, not shout, for Ryan: "I fart in your general direction!" This castle was less ruined than Cricceith, and was interesting to see. Next was Valle Crucis Abbey which was a spectacular set of ruins, very picturesque as long as you disregard the caravan park next door - within a stone's through, actually.

My next stop was Powis Castle -- more of a Tudor fortified palace - with terraced garden. After all of the gray-toned buildings in Wales, the terra-cotta color of Powis Catle was nice. The gardens were lush with fragrant plants -- many I had never seen before. I had a snack in the little cafeteria and then went into them palace. There was only one room restored to the original Tudor style with most of the house stuffed Victorian style. there were magnificent paintings and decorations.

I arrived at my new hotel The George Borrow Hotel tired, but was greeted warmly.

Posted by bczlapinski 11:19 Archived in Wales Tagged castle abbey valle powis rhuddlan crucis Comments (1)

Caernarfon Hub

it works!

sunny 19 °F

I selected Caernarfon as my hub for visiting this part of Wales because of the castle and it's status as a World Heritage site. I booked my stay at The Black Boy Inn back in November 2010 when first planing my trip. The Inn is lovely . . . Historical and comfortable. My single room with a twin bed is tucked up in the rafters and I am serenaded by gulls all day. they are particularly raucous at sunset and dawn. Everyone here is friendly, the food is good, and the beer is cold. Can't beat that.

Friday started off sunny, so I crossed the bridge in Bangor to the Island of Anglesey. I went to Beaumaris Castle and had the castle to myself! What a treat! The castle is very pretty with a moat going all around it -- there was even a pair of swans. Beaumaris is beautifully symmetrical wit) towers at each corner, but it was never finished. One of Edward I's castles, it was never strategically important enough to complete.

From Beaumaris, I went to a little place called Penmon where there are several things to see. in the 600s a hermit, later canonized as Saint Seriol, had a hut near a spring -- St. Seriol's Well. There are the ruins of a 13th century priory, an a section which has been incorporated into a church. Inside the church are several stones with Celtic carvings. There is a dovecot -- a building to house doves, apparently a tasty dish. Up there road was a light house and a view of Puffin Island --Ynys Seriol. St. Serial and his followers built hermitages on the island.

From there I drove along the outside rim of the island enjoying the spectacular scenery. On Holy Head Island, I ate lunch at South Stack Nature Reserve and relaxed. From there I went to Bryn celli ddu, a stone burial site which was a very cool. it was in the middle os a sheep pasture, and looked like a little mound of earn covered with grass. There were stone openings at each end, and you can go in and see inside. I had a flashlight with me because I had read that they had discovered carvings on the rocks. It was cool to be in a place over 4000 years old.

I then drove into. Snowdonia since the weather was still decent. The mountains are spectacular -- not particularly high as mountains go,but breathtaking just the same. Sheep were every where.

AWESOME day. Sorry I can't get photos up . . . Apparently it is an iPad thing. So much for THAT step in the planning.

Posted by bczlapinski 06:29 Archived in Wales Tagged snowdonia caernarfon anglesey beaumaris bryn cello ddu Comments (0)

A thousand mile journey . . .

Begins with one step. The Tao Te Ching

sunny 19 °F

My dream trip began yesterday with an uneventful flight. Although I had bits of sleep on the bus and planes, I was pretty weary when I arrived at Birmingham Airport. it was clean and everyone was helpful. The rental car is cute, but My first 10 miles or so were harrowing. The manual/stick shift on the left wasn't too bad and there are rotaries every 5 miles or less, so I got used to those quickly. My GPS worked extremely getting me right to Caernarfon, where my fist stop was the castle, of course.

So here's a bit of info about the castle. it was built on the orders of King Edward I in his efforts to bring the rebellious Welsh under Norman dominion as part of his "ring of iron." Construction began in 1283 on the foundations of an earlier Roman fort and 11th century motte and bailey castle. While my castle interest is purely Romantic from an early over-consumption of romance novels, the essence of this building is raw power. the inner Bailey is massive . . . The photos speak for themselves -- if the link works! Click here for Caernarfon inner Bailey!

For more details on castle history and construction: http://www.castlewales.com/caernarf.html

Posted by bczlapinski 00:03 Archived in Wales Tagged castle caernarfon Comments (1)

Three more days . . .

the waiting is killing me!

Waiting, living in the moment, patience -- these have never been my strong suit despite the the stacks of meditation and living in the moment book, tapes, and pod casts I have gathered over the years. I wish I could just beam myself to Wales and get the show on the road as they say! But I have to wait.

I packed, unpacked and repacked so that I have what I need in a form I can carry. First time through, I had my new rolling duffle AND a rolling carry-on packed to bulging. After a day or two of worrying and complaining, I unpacked and removed half of the stuff I had in the bags-- including the travel books. After all, the internet is available 24/7 and all of mile files are on my ipad. Once I repacked, I was able to get my suitcase down my stairs -- so I guess, my packing is done!

Now just papers to grade and end of the year stuff to finish up and Wednesday will be here before I know it. Om mani padme hum. Breathe, Becky, breathe.

Posted by bczlapinski 03:28 Comments (0)

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